Coming to America 1

Things don’t always turn out how we expect, but sometimes when life takes us on a detour, we end up finding just what we are looking for. Case in point: Pri Bispo and her family, who immigrated to America to seek out a better life. In her search for better opportunities, Bispo found out firsthand that the American dream isn’t always easy to attain.

Bispo, who emigrated from Brazil to teach jiu jitsu and compete, dreams of owning her own gym and providing a better quality of life for her family. For now her dream may have to be put on hold. Bispo currently teaches yoga and jiu jitsu. She trains as often as she can, but finding time between all her responsibilities is difficult.

“Training and competing and being the mother of two little girls is not easy, we do everything for our children,” Bispo said. “We sacrifice a lot. Having the strength to continue is difficult.”

Bispo finds time to train in between being a mother, housewife, and teacher. Often her children are sleeping during class, which can make it difficult to participate as much as she would like.

Her jiu jitsu journey began 14 years ago when her best friend invited her to take a class, which changed the course of her life. Bispo then trained at Gracie Humaitá in Brazil with master Rolker Gracie. Today, training in the U.S., Bispo says she notices similarities and differences in the way jiu jitsu is taught in Brazil versus the U.S.

“The teachers in America are more focused on the details. They repeat every detail of the position. They are more perfectionists,” Bispo said. “In Brazil, the teachers do not spend so much time in the positions, they do not do much repetition, only with the athletes. But they use most of the classes for the specific training and the rolls.”

Bispo’s journey hasn’t been without challenges, but her future has infinite possibilities given her strong work ethic, passion and dedication.

“It is hard work, tiring, physically and mentally. But I keep going because I love this sport,” she said. “Jiu jitsu gave me college, a profession, my husband and my family. I will never leave!”



 Shama Ko

Girls in Gis staff writer

Shama Ko is a brown belt with Gracie Humaita out of Austin, TX.  She has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since November of 2003.  She is a photographer, writer, community organizer and activist. She heads the Girls in Gis organization or as she calls it the “movement”. She describes herself as both a lover and a fighter. She loves to laugh and not take life too seriously.

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